Heat Pump Hydronic Heating

Consider heat pump hydronic heating and cooling for your energy efficient all-electric home. With good home design and solar power, you can reduce the size of the heat pump. This reduces capital and operating costs. It also reduces greenhouse emissions, whilst improving indoor air quality and comfort.

With over 9 million homes in Australia and over 2 million with solar power, the opportunity is huge. 

Heating, cooling and domestic hot water typically represent around two thirds of your home’s power consumption. This can be significantly reduced through good design, solar power and efficient electrical appliances.

Heat pump hydronic heating is more expensive to install than air conditioning but is more comfortable and efficient at heating. Here are the differences between heat pumps and air conditioners:

  • Heat pumps transfer heating and cooling to/from the air indirectly using water flow
  • Air conditioners transfer heating and cooling to/from the air directly using air flow
  • Apart from air, the heat source can also be water or underground, but air source is cheapest

Water is 3300 times more capable than air of transferring heat energy, therefore:

  • Thin water lines can be used instead of large air ducts
  • Thin water lines can be run underfloor and through radiators
  • Fan assisted convectors can draw air across warm or cold-water coils
Read more:

There are five types of hydronic heating and cooling methods:

Underfloor:

    • Best in cold climates needing heating mainly
    • Most comfortable form of heating
    • Cooling cycle is effective combined with fans
    • Cooling cycle tranfers heat from the inside air via water pipes to the heat pump outside
    • Most efficient, 1kW in gives 5kW out
    • Silent and does not blow allergens around
energy efficient home case study
hydronic radiator

Radiators:

    • Best in cold climates needing heating mainly
    • Reverse cycle provides a cooling effect when humidity is low, combined with fans
    • Cooling cycle tranfers heat from the inside air via water pipes to the heat pump outside
    • Efficient, efficient, 1kW in gives 3.8kW out
    • Silent and does not blow allergens around

Fan Coil Convectors:

    • Can be installed in addition to radiators, much better at cooling than radiators
    • Ideal for space restricted applications
    • Can be installed in bench kickboards
    • Can be concealed above cupboards
hydronic fan coil convector
hydronic trench convector

Floor Trench Convectors:

  • Many trench grills available to suit most floors
  • Ideal for heavily glassed rooms
  • Can be installed beside sliding glass doors
  • Ideal for suspended floor with room for trench
  • For slab construction, the trench space needs to be provided in the slab plan

Hydronic Towel Rails

  • Used to warm and dry towels
  • Will heat a small bathroom
  • Designed for the humidity of a bathroom
  • Available in many styles and sizes to suit
  • White radiates better than chrome
hydronic towel rail

Other points:

  • A heat pump can both heat and cool whereas a gas or wood boiler can only heat
  • Air conditioners are better at cooling because air movement assists the cooling process
  • Heat pumps are better at heating because radiant heat is more efficient and comfortable
  • Air movement in heating mode creates air chill which works against the heating process

Operating Tips

  • Adjust your inside set temperature up and down with the seasons
  • Some adjustment with the seasons improves your body’s ability to adapt to changing weather
  • Clean filters of your equipment, at least prior to each heating and cooling season

Design Tips:

  • Your home design should work in with your heating and cooling systems
  • Consider insulation, heat load and air tightness
  • Consider the sun’s path and prevailing wind
  • If  your budget is tight, consider hydronic systems in family rooms and air conditioning in bedrooms
  • Install ceiling fans to reduce the effective temperature you feel by around 4 degrees
  • Zone rooms because you don’t need to heat or cool your whole house all of the time

Two Storey Homes:

  • In summer, cool air from a/c falls to the ground floor helping hydronic cooling
  • In winter, warm air from hydronic heating rises up helping reverse cycle air conditioning